It is early 1987, my interest in sailing was dwindling. I began to dream of taking a bicycle camping trip. Always a voracious reader, several books inspired me, especially “Miles from Nowhere, A Round the World Bicycle Adventure” In my opinion, this is one great book.
I was inspired and had done plenty of riding to get in shape. However none of my cycling friends were interested in such an adventure. Not wanting to go it alone, I looked in magazines for tours that I thought I would enjoy. I decided to start with a week long trip. The one I selected wasn’t too far from home. This was a week long van supported bicycle tour of North Florida conducted by a little outfit called “Suwanee Country Tours”. A van carried our bags, and we slept in motels and hotels.
We travelled several hundred miles through rural north Florida, making new friends and generally having a good time. There was some weather along the way, but our GOR-TEX rainsuits made it bearable.
A Rainy Day
Even though it was long ago, I remember a couple of moments on this tour. One was this lunch stop at the fire tower. I’m not sure why this lunch break is recalled so well, but it probably had something to do with the brilliant weather.
Swanee Country Tours Van at Fire Watchtower
Part of the trip was through pretty rolling hills, and another section through flat pine lands that were actively being logged. During this tour, we encountered a gas station at an off ramp on I-10 that sold ice cream cones for 10 cents. Even in 1987, that was a great deal.
The Group Takes a Brief Break
One thing that I really will never forget about this trip, was one of the last nights. We were staying at an old fashioned wood framed hotel. Dave, our tour guide, had hired a local woman to make us diner. Well this women appeared to be a real Florida cracker. She didn’t wear shoes. Other than the lack of shoes, her dress was country, with a long skirt down to her ankles. She made us fried catfish in a large kettle. That was the first time I had eaten catfish, and to this day, the only time that I have had really good catfish. Boy was that catfish yummy. Nearly as good as her catfish was the Pecan Pie she brought for desert. Boy could that woman cook.
I slept in a downstairs room that night, while the rest of the group were upstairs. When I had to get up for a potty break in the middle of the night, I discovered that the place was literally alive with cockroaches. I never have seen so many cockroaches in one place, before or since. It creeped me out so much that I could hardly sleep after that. Boy was I glad to get out of there in the morning. I’m guessing that the folks upstairs didn’t encounter the same problem, because they never said anything.
Group Mug Shot
Anyway, despite the cockroaches, it was a great trip and I made a bunch of new friends.